January 24th, 2009
10:05 AM ET
9 years ago

Michelle Obama: 'Inappropriate' to use daughters to sell dolls

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/01/22/obama.dolls/art.sasha.malia.dolls.ty.jpg caption="Ty, the maker of Beanie Babies, is introducing two new Ty Girlz dolls named Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – They’ve been in the White House less than a week, but the first daughters have already been co-opted by marketers — and Michelle Obama isn’t happy about it.

Ty, the toy company responsible for the popular Beanie Babies dolls, is now marketing “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” dolls.

The first lady’s office said Friday Ty was out of line. “We feel it is inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purposes,” said a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama in a statement.

A Ty representative told CNN the company generally avoids naming dolls for “any particular living individual,” because doing so might interfere with how kids use their imaginations to play with them. But they wouldn’t reveal the source of their inspiration for the new figures, telling CNN that information relating to the development of the company’s merchandise - including how it comes up with products, product names, and trademarks – is proprietary.

Related video: First lady miffed by 'Malia,' 'Sasha' dolls

–CNN White House Producer Becky Brittain contributed to this report.

Filed under: Michelle Obama • Obama family • Popular Posts
soundoff (966 Responses)
  1. Daniel Reed

    In a time when young women are selling their virginity to pay for school and it's publicized all over the world... selling Obama daughter dolls is the least of our worries for the future moral standing of this country.

    January 24, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. Chris E

    I agree with the FIRST LADY leave her childrens alone, Make your dolls out of someone else

    January 24, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  3. Edward Dietrich

    Leave The Children ALONE they deserve a life without the commercilization of their images. Now that they live in the White House, doesn't make them Public TOYS as the industry would like !!!

    January 24, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. Chris

    mark my words; due to this outrage from the public – Ty will be out of business or bought up by another toy maker and dissolved within a year.

    January 24, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. tiff of Lithia Springs

    Peoples children are off limits! If those were my kids they would have a lawsuit so big they would think a bulldozer was coming.

    January 24, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  6. worriedmom

    Ok don't think it is a concidence that Ty named these dolls Malia and Sasha however how is it any different than GAP selling out outifts that the girls wear and ever other Vendor trying to make a buck on Obama.
    If you don't like it don't buy it but you can bet plenty of people have made millions on Obama items.

    January 24, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |

    TY is dispicable and disgusting for this. I will never ever purchase anything from Ty. Their distasteful and dispicable behavior will backfire on them. Not only are they exploiters of innocent children, they have insulted the intellegence of the American people, by lying that there is no connection between the First Daughters and those dolls. UGGG this is utterly disgusting. If they know what's good for them, they pull those dolls off of shelves STAT.

    January 24, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. dave

    I read these blogs all the time, can hammer palins kids but obamas kids are off limit. All any of them did was smile and wave. they made no political statements at all. Ethics isnt a party thing. see wrong as wrong. Change and hope????

    January 24, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. tony

    Michelle should welcome this, they will sell like crazy, make TY all kinds of money and in return, TY will pay large amounts of taxes and help pay for the stimulus package. They call it redistribution of wealth, and the president is leading by example.

    January 24, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  10. NO more Ty

    Don't buy Ty products
    Don't buy Ty products
    Ty of course you picked those names out of a hat?NOT

    January 24, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. Joe

    WOW! what a tremendous double standard a lot of you have! Ty can't use the names Sasha and Malia because those are the names of the Obama kids and they should be off limits? Why weren't the Palin kids off limits? It didn't seem to bother Michelle Obama in the least that members of the media trash talked Bristol Palin 3 months before the election and have yet to stop.
    Turn about is fair play Michelle.

    January 24, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  12. Steve in Moline, IL

    Welcome to the world of being in the public eye. You put them there Obama, deal with the repercussions.

    January 24, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. cord

    i don't like that a company is "exploiting" younger children (though it's not really hurting them in any way - in fact, you could argue that malia and sasha could feel proud that a toy company would want to make a doll in their likeness). BUT FIRST, can any obama supporter please explain why this is wrong but it was okay for Palin's and Bush's children to be criticized/investigated/continually covered by the press, which far more directly hurtful to those children? Please, anyone? Haven't seen one explanation as to why it was okay before but not now?

    January 24, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. Scott M

    Ty says "they wouldn’t reveal the source of their inspiration" Geez, how stupid do they think everyone is?

    January 24, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. anonymous

    I think they should make a sour grapes beanie baby for all of the repugnicans who are here whining like giant babies. waaaahhhhh

    January 24, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Natalie

    The Obama's thought they would be viewed as "private citizens"? It did not cross their minds they would be "PUBLIC FIGURES"? Get real! And by the way, TY is out to get a buck.... the world knows that. May the chips fall where they may if they have broken the law.

    January 24, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. NN

    that's what you get when you are not a privte citizen anymore ...get with the program ...talk about something a little more important ..maybe she really just wants a cut of the profits.

    January 24, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. manos

    Both sides are wrong.

    The Obamas are wrong becasue they did parade their kids around during the elections etc. They also made a big deal about them while moving into the White House.

    On the other hand, the company obviously lies when it's claiming that the names have nothing to do with Obama's daughters and that some proprietary "scientific " process was used to determine the names of the dolls.

    January 24, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. scientistxoxo

    did ty get premission from the Obama family to make these dolls? xD

    January 24, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. lulu

    low blow TY you should have gotten permission first and offer to donate proceeds to a charity of the Obama's choosing proir to marketing the dolls. But to deny the inspiration do you think we are living under a rock? I even hate to admit it if they had done it correctly and gotten permission it would have been the other way around and I would have loved to purchase one for my daughter who also loves to play with the diverse groovy girl dolls!

    January 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. euram

    TY sell the dolls and donate the money to charity

    January 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Sam

    Well first Mama, get used to the critique by the media and being the center of attention. You and the "annointed one" want the glory, so you get "the whole package", or resign. You aren't "above" it – you used "it" to get where you are.

    Where are Bruce, Barbara, Oprah, Al and Jessie when you need them!

    January 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. disgusted

    Ty is a clueless bottom-feeder if it can't understand why this is inappropriate. No more Ty products in our house.

    January 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  24. Mike F

    I'm not a father nor am I one to criticize sketchy business practices however, Ty is 40 miles left of right. There is not rhyme or reason for releasing a product of this nature. If Ty does not face repercussions for their actions I will be shocked and appalled.

    January 24, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  25. Steve

    Consider ALL products by Ty BOYCOTTED FOR EVER as a result of this IDIOTIC decision.

    I will be communicating with the Board of Ty and you can expect all senior persons to be fired instantly for their stupidity and bad taste!

    January 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
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